First time accepted submitter kandelar writes "PBS recently ran a story about how some scientists are using human hair to trace where a person has been. The combinations of different isotopes in water make for somewhat unique signatures from place to place. These isotopes get placed in growing hair strands which can then be traced back to identify where a person has been."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
AmiMoJo writes "Japanese automaker Nissan Motor says it has developed a new technology to help drivers avoid collisions. A new computer system automatically steers the car to avoid colliding with objects in the road. The system relies on radar and laser scanners. It also uses a front-mounted camera to provide information on what's happening outside the car. The system first alerts the driver to turn in a certain direction. If the driver cannot immediately turn in that direction, the system takes over the steering to help avoid a collision."
pigrabbitbear writes "China's largest electronics manufacturer, the already-loathed Foxconn, is now taking the fall for the iPhone 5 shortage that's annoyed consumers and worried investors in recent weeks. What's the holdup? They don't have enough parts? They're training new line workers? They're too busy trying to regain control of their factories after employees started rioting? Nah. According to the company, the iPhone 5 is just a huge pain to put together. That bit about the riots is a little bit true, too, though."
First time accepted submitter titan1070 writes "French scientist Dr. Spitzer and his colleagues have been working on a device that can sense faint traces of TNT and other explosives being smuggled into airports and other transportation methods. the hope for this device is that it will surpass the best bomb finder in the business, the sniffer dog. From the article: ' While researchers like Dr. Spitzer are making progress — and there are some vapor detectors on the market — when it comes to sensitivity and selectivity, dogs still reign supreme. “Dogs are awesome,” said Aimee Rose, a product sales director at the sensor manufacturer Flir Systems, which markets a line of explosives detectors called Fido. “They have by far the most developed ability to detect concealed threats,” she said. But dogs get distracted, cannot work around the clock and require expensive training and handling, Dr. Rose said, so there is a need for instruments.'"
another random user sends word that a set of newly-granted Apple patents published by the USPTO includes an alternative to the near field communication (NFC) technology that has begun to pop up in mobile devices. From the article: "Apple has received a Granted Patent relating to techniques for triggering a process within a portable electronic device that identifies itself for purposes of establishing communications with another device that is in proximity. At the moment, NFC is the technology that's getting all of the attention lately in respect to making it easier for two mobile devices to share information. While Apple is likewise doing research with NFC, they're also working with an alternate methodology for which they've now gained a patent for. In accordance with Apple's newly granted patent, a method for network device discovery monitors a compass output in a portable electronic device. As the portable device and an external device come closer to each other, a magnetic field signature is computed based on the monitored compass output. A determination is then made as to whether the computed signature could be associated with or implies that a previously defined type of electronic device (with which a network device discovery process can be conducted) is in close proximity. In other words, as the two devices come closer to each other, their respective magnetic characteristics cause the compass output to change in a way that implies that a network device discovery process should be initiated between the two devices."
colinneagle writes "A blog post contending that Microsoft's decision to match Apple's iPad pricing on its Surface tablet will hurt its chances in the market has brought out some negative comments from readers who seem to like the Surface tablet. I was kind of surprised by this, as I and other bloggers seem to agree that making the fully keyboard-equipped Surface tablet roughly $120 more expensive than the iPad kind of negates the purpose — to build steam by appealing to those in the market for a cheaper tablet. Also, I've yet to see an argument that justifies pricing the Surface competitively with the iPad, so I figured I would bring the question to Slashdot: Is Microsoft's pricing for the Surface tablet justified?"
New submitter Madwand sends this quote from the NetBSD Project's announcement that NetBSD 6.0 has been released: "Changes from the previous release include scalability improvements on multi-core systems, many new and updated device drivers, Xen and MIPS port improvements, and brand new features such as a new packet filter. Some NetBSD 6.0 highlights are: support for thread-local storage (TLS), Logical Volume Manager (LVM) functionality, rewritten disk quota subsystem, new subsystems to handle flash devices and NAND controllers, an experimental CHFS file system designed for flash devices, support for Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) protocol, and more. This release also introduces NPF — a new packet filter, designed with multi-core systems in mind, which can do TCP/IP traffic filtering, stateful inspection, and network address translation (NAT)."
derekmead writes "New evidence that the giant impact hypothesis is correct: A paper published today in Nature shares findings of a chemical analysis of Moon rocks that shows fractional differences between the makeup of the Earth and Moon that most likely were caused by the collision between Earth and a Mars-sized planet around 4.5 billion years ago. Although the two are quite similar, it's been previously shown that Moon rocks lack volatile elements, which suggests they may have evaporated during the incredibly intense heat and pressure created during an impact event. But if the hypothesis that light elements actually evaporated from Moon rocks during their formation is correct, you'd expect to find evidence of elements being layered by mass — heavier elements would condense first, and so on. That process is known as isotopic fractionation — a concept central to carbon dating — and the Washington University team's results suggest they found exactly that (abstract). They compared the blend of zinc isotopes in Moon rocks and Earth samples, and found that the Moon rocks held slightly higher proportions of heavier zinc isotopes. If the Moon was indeed once part of Earth — which has been shown by extensive modeling (PDF) — the difference in the balance of zinc profiles would most likely be explained by lighter zinc isotopes evaporating away following a collision."
beaverdownunder writes "A former police officer in the Australian state of Victoria has called on law enforcement to prosecute creators of hate pages on social media following Facebook's decision to close down a page mocking Jill Meagher, the 29-year-old Melbourne woman abducted and killed last month. Susan McLean, who spent 27 years with Victoria Police before launching her cyber safety consultancy three years ago, said police have the ability to prosecute the creators of pages that are in breach of Australian laws but appear to be unwilling to use it. 'There have been many cases in the UK where these people have been hunted down and charged and jailed. We need to do that in Australia.' Under section 474.17 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, it is an offense to use 'a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offense,' punishable by three years in jail."
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: After I sent 10 new proxy sites to my (confirmed-opt-in) mailing list, two of them ended up on one of Spamhaus's blacklists, and as a result, all 10 domains were disabled by the domain registrar, so the sites disappeared from the Web. Did you even know this could happen?"
As they did with the first debate, Democracy Now has published the debate questions answered by third party candidates. Jill Stein (Green), Virgil Goode (Constitution), and Rocky Anderson (Justice) were present. There's a (long) video with the answers spliced in, and (thankfully) a transcript of all their answers. Gary Johnson was not present, but you can catch him debating Jill Stein Thursday October 18th at 7 p.m. EDT.
concealment writes with news that Amazon's Jeff Bezos has called for new legislation from governments to end abuse of the patent system. He said, 'Patents are supposed to encourage innovation and we're starting to be in a world where they might start to stifle innovation. Governments may need to look at the patent system and see if those laws need to be modified because I don't think some of these battles are healthy for society.' His comments are from an interview with the UK's Metro. Bezos was also optimistic about the future of the private space industry: "If private companies can start to generate profits from this kind of activity then you’ll start to see the flywheel spin more rapidly and we’ll make more progress, because I really do think we want to live in a civilization where millions of people are living and working in space."
Dupple sends this quote from MIT's Technology Review: "Computerized hospital equipment is increasingly vulnerable to malware infections, according to participants in a recent government panel. These infections can clog patient-monitoring equipment and other software systems, at times rendering the devices temporarily inoperable. While no injuries have been reported, the malware problem at hospitals is clearly rising nationwide, says Kevin Fu, a leading expert on medical-device security and a computer scientist at the University of Michigan and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who took part in the panel discussion. [He said], 'Conventional malware is rampant in hospitals because of medical devices using unpatched operating systems. There's little recourse for hospitals when a manufacturer refuses to allow OS updates or security patches.' ... Despite FDA guidance issued in 2009 to hospitals and manufacturers—encouraging them to work together and stressing that eliminating security risks does not always require regulatory review—many manufacturers interpret the fine print in other ways and don't offer updates, Fu says. And such reporting is not required unless a patient is harmed."
Hugh Pickens writes "The Christian Science Monitor reports that scientists are planning a new route for NASA's New Horizons space probe as it approaches a potentially perilous path toward Pluto through a possible set of rings that may create dangerous debris zones for the NASA spacecraft. New Horizons is currently about 1,000 days away and 730 million miles from closest approach to Pluto but given that New Horizons is currently zooming away from the sun at more than 33,500 mph, 'a collision with a single pebble, or even a millimeter-sized grain, could cripple or destroy New Horizons,' says project scientist Hal Weaver. 'We need to steer clear of any debris zones around Pluto.' Researchers are making plans to avoid these hazards if New Horizons needs to. 'We are now exploring nine other options, "bail-out trajectories,"' says principal investigator Alan Stern. New Horizon's current plan would take it about halfway between Pluto and the orbit of its largest moon, Charon. Four of the bail-out trajectories would still take the spacecraft between Pluto and Charon's orbit. The other alternatives would take New Horizons much further away from Pluto, past the orbits of its known moons. 'If you fly twice as far away, your camera does half as well; if it's 10 times as far, it does one-tenth as well,' says Stern. 'Still, half a loaf is better than no loaf. Sending New Horizons on a suicide mission does no one any good. We're very much of the mind to accomplish as much as we can, and not losing it all recklessly. Better to turn an A+ to an A- than get an F by overreaching.'"
I recently sat down with Chris DiBona to talk about the 15th anniversary of Slashdot. In addition to discussing the joys of heading an email campaign against spamming politicians, and the perils of throwing a co-worker's phone into a bucket, even if you think that bucket is empty, we talked about the growth of Google Summer of Code. Below you'll find his story of how a conversation about trying to get kids to be more active with computers in the summer has led to the release of 55 million lines of code.